Seeing Hate For What It Is
I wrote previously that the fight for gay equality isn’t over simply when common, decent heterosexuals stop seeing their gay neighbors through the prism of every anti-gay stereotype the hatemongers have been pushing for generations, and start seeing us for the human beings we really are. That’s an important step, but not the final one. The last step comes when they finally start seeing the hatemongers for…well…the hatemongers they are.
The saving grace of it is that it gets easier the closer gay folk get to the equality prize. The masks of civility and decency just start dropping like crazy and for a moment, the homophobes seem to have suddenly become completely unhinged. But your gay and lesbian neighbors know that they have always been unhinged. They’ve just never talked that way in front of the rest of the nation before. Case in point, Peter LaBarbera. Or as he’s affectionately known over at Pam’s House Blend…The Peter.
LaBarbera’s signature act is to go "undercover" into the gay S&M scene and report back on all the unsavory things going on in the backrooms, sex parties and dungeons. Never mind that S&M isn’t a particularly gay phenomina. Never mind that you could wander through the heterosexual side of any adult bookstore anywhere in this country and find grown heterosexual adults engaging in the very same acts. LaBarbera seeks out the most exotic, the most extreme, the most unsavory things he can find in the gay community, and then presents it to his flock as what it is to be homosexual. This is how hatemongers have operated since the dawn of human history. Via Pam’s House Blend, here’s a typical example of how LaBarbera preferrs to operate…
Man, oh man…after he wrote me a letter to chastise me for making fun of his excursions to leather clubs to do undercover work for Jeezus, Illinois Family Institute’s Peter LaBarbera just lets it all hang out in an article on Salon (registration required) by Michelle Goldberg, "Sinners in the hands of an angry GOP." It’s an inside look at the goings-on at the War on Christians and the Values Voters conference.
Because Petey’s efforts to demonize the entire gay community are failing miserably (the Gay Games are going on in Chicago with Walgreen’s sponsorship; his marriage amendment initiative can’t get the signatures it needs) he must now escalate the homo-hate wars with a little spice — by trolling on gay boards for research on how to scare youth away from the gay agenda.
Perhaps worrying that anti-gay rhetoric hasn’t been sufficiently inflammatory lately, some speakers urged listeners to start using more scatological and stigmatizing language. Peter LaBarbera, who heads the Illinois Family Institute and is known for his obsession with gay men’s most outré sexual practices, told the audience, "My greatest frustration has been our side’s inability to make homosexual behavior an issue in the public’s mind." In order to inspire the kind of revulsion he wants to see more of, he read from a posting on a gay message board: "Hey guys, I know this is kind of gross and all, but I was wondering if I’m the only one. I’m usually the bottom in my relationship with my boyfriend. After having been the receptive partner in anal sex it’s only a few hours before I start to experience diarrhea … it really stinks, because I really like sex, duh, but it takes the fun out of it when I know I’ll be tied to the bathroom for the next day."
"I don’t think so-called GLBT teens are told anything like this" by their school counselors, LaBarbera said. "We need to find ways to bring shame back to those who are practicing and advocating homosexual behavior."
Take note of two things: firstly, that this is being discussed openly as a matter of tactics. It’s not about what the facts are, it’s about what creates the maximum effect. Secondly, this is the kook pews talking among themselves. This is being discussed at the War on Christians and the Values Voters Conference. In the mainstream news, they would never say they are choosing what to say about homosexuality mostly for effect. Yet note also, the rote bemoaning of their inability to get the message out. Time and again you hear them saying among themselves, that if they could only get their message out Teh Gays wouldn’t be winning the culture war. Note that, and note along with it that they are nonetheless careful to moderate their rhetoric in public.
At least, up until now. Triumphant after last November, once again they see themselves loosing ground to an enemy they can’t seem to get an edge up on no matter how much they do, no matter how many political victories they score. When all you have are lies to win the war with, then the war is lost. But you go into battle with what you have. And as I said, the saving grace of all this is that the more they loose, the more vehement they become. And then people start to notice something.
People like Glenn Sacks. Sacks, a columnist whose focus is on men’s and fathers’ issues, specifically on the father’s rights movement, but also on men’s rights in general, took issue recently with Christian Newswire’s giving LaBarbera a forum to dump his poison into the political dialogue…
Mercifully, most opponents of gay marriage are not anti-gay bigots like LaBarbera. I have no problem with gay marriage and gay rights, but however one feels about gay marriage, it has nothing to do with the decline of the American family. The real threat to American families is not gay marriage but instead divorce and a family law system which separates millions of children from the fathers they love and need.
Sacks provided his readers with a handy link they could use to tell Christian Newswire what they thought of LaBarbera’s bigotry. Naturally, LaBarbera couldn’t take that laying down. As Sacks reported in a follow up post, LaBarbera responded in his own characteristically measured and thoughtful way…
Are you a homosexual, Glenn?
More of that exchange Here. Here’s where it get’s interesting. LaBarbera sent an alarm out to dozens of religious right groups, calling Sack’s post arrogant and harmful to the movement. You get the sense from Sacks’ follow-up post that he expected better from the movement’s leaders then he got. But almost any gay American citizen could have told him what to expect…
In a letter to me cc’d to dozens of Christian leaders, LaBarbera called my post "arrogant and harmful" and sent a follow-up letter asking "Are you a homosexual, Glenn?" A lively debate ensued, in which many Christian leaders wrote to me.
What I expected was that many of them would say something along the lines of "We agree that Peter LaBarbera’s views are extreme and we don’t support them, but we do believe that gay marriage is harmful." While I don’t believe that gay marriage is harmful, I do not now nor have I ever believed that all who oppose gay marriage are anti-gay.
I taught in Christian high-schools for several years and the religious leaders always told me that the Christian teaching on gays is to "Love the sinner, hate the sin." If Christians want to have credibility on opposing gay marriage, they must also oppose anti-gay bigotry, and I expected that many of them would.
Instead, I’ve been disappointed and at times floored by the unreserved support some have shown LaBarbera, including many letters with the subject line "I Stand with Peter."
Many of these are major figures. For example, Janet M. LaRue, Chief Counsel for Concerned for America, wrote:
"Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; Who substitute darkness for light and light for darkness; Who substitute bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter!"…I know Pete LaBarbera. Pete LaBarbera is a friend of mine.
Christian radio host/author Janet Folger Porter wrote:
Peter LaBarbera is the best example of what Christians should be doing…Peter’s comments have been nothing but honest, loving, and courageous.
Matt Barber of Liberty Counsel and Scott Lively, president of Defend the Family, signed on to the "I Stand with Peter" letter. Lively, apparently referring to me, wrote:
Who is this uncircumcised Philistine who challenges the army of the Living God?
You obviously don’t have a clue about the role of the homosexual movement in the disintegration of the natural family model in America. Without the "gays’" largely hidden but relentless anti-family social-engineering campaign since the 1940s, there wouldn’t be a fathers’ rights crisis in our land.
Hetersoexual divorce and out-of-wedlock births are the fault of gays? Lively is right–I certainly missed that one.
Townhall columnist Robert Knight of Coral Ridge Ministries writes:
Peter LaBarbera is a courageous, talented and honest advocate for the truth who will not back down in the face of vicious attacks or smear campaigns. He has said nothing that is not backed by voluminous evidence…
He has exposed the relentless and reckless promotion of behavior that is documentably dangerous and soul-destroying. That’s the face of real compassion, not the ersatz concern of people who pat homosexuals on the head, watch them go off a cliff into disease, drugs, alcohol, and suicide, and then blame others for not going along with the fictions that homosexuality is harmless and inevitable.
Ingrid Schlueter of the VCY America Radio Network writes:
Peter, unlike most evangelicals today, has the testosterone to challenge those who pervert Scripture, pervert sexuality, and insist that everyone accept it as normal. He has my absolute support…
Phil Burress, Chairman of Equal Rights not Special Rights, writes:
Peter LaBarbera is my friend and I want to be named alongside him the next time you attack him for telling the truth.
It goes on and on…with Sacks just staring dumbfounded…
Peter Sprigg, Senior Director of Culture Studies of the Family Research Council, did give an answer to my question "If Peter LaBarbera’s statement isn’t bigoted, what is?", writing:
Fred Phelps, who says "God hates f-gs," is bigoted. Peter LaBarbera is not.
Both Phelps and LaBarbera are bigoted, but I would agree with Sprigg that Phelps is far worse.
Alan Chambers, president of Exodus International and author of Leaving Homosexuality, defended LaBarbera, writing:
Peter may not always say the right thing, but who one of us does? As Christians I think we ought to go to our brother or sister when we think they have missed the mark before we do a blog post on it…
I’m fully aware that people sometimes don’t always express themselves the way they would like to, and I’ve certainly said things on TV and the radio that I could have phrased better. But Peter’s views that I criticized are ones that he has written on many occasions–it’s fair to characterize them as his views and criticize them.
Chambers also states that he is "unalterably convinced that Peter indeed loves sinners and cares about their eternities more than the policies he fights for." All I can say is that if this is true, Peter is uncharacteristically shy about letting the public know about it.
That Chambers would be quick to come to LaBarbera’s defense is interesting for the controversy that’s been actively reported on over at Box Turtle Bulletin, concerning Exodus participation in a Ugandian conference on homosexuality. Holocaust revisionist Scott Lively was a speaker and once again ginned up anti-gay passions in a land torn by genocide, by claiming that genocide is the work of homosexuals, while Exodus board member Don Schmierer sat and smiled. Jim Burroway and Timothy Kincaid have been asking Exodus to repudiate board member Don Schmierer’s participation in the conference, which included calls for wholesale witchhunting and imprisoning of gay people in Uganda. To date, other then a squalid bit of both-sides-of-the-mouth boilerplate PR, Exodus has remained silent. Gay people are killed time and again in the venomous hostility created by hatemongers like LaBarbera and Lively, and Exodus, which laughably claims to be a non-political faith group that only seeks to heal unwanted "same sex attractions" acknowledges with President Alan Chamber’s defense of LaBarbera, that the blood of all those innocents is on its hands too. As Christians Alan, you ought to consider whether your words bring peace to the world, or inflame passions. But then, your Christianity is as thin as your ersatz love for those gay poeple who had more courage and stronger inner resources of character then you could ever muster in your own life, isn’t it Alan?
Sacks ends the exchange with this…
In conclusion, I’m surprised and rather disappointed. Is Peter LaBarbera really representative of modern Christian thought? I don’t believe that–I believe Christians are much better than that. I have a very hard time imagining the many hard-working, devoted religious faculties I once worked with holding LaBarbera’s views. But in general this recent exchange doesn’t do much to support my optimism.
LaBarbera isn’t representative of modern Christian thought. He’s merely and utterly representative of a certain kind of American culture warrior…the kook pews…the ones who are still arguing that giving women and non-property owners the vote is what ruined America. And no doubt the darkies too. There is a good deal more to Christianity then this little corner of the human gutter. You thought they were better then this. A lot of people do. Welcome to the other side of the public face…the side that has been spitting in the faces of your gay and lesbian neighbors for decades now.
Yes…it’s pretty awful. But you needed to see this. Just remember what Nietzsche said about staring into an abyss. You have to keep reminding yourself that there is more to humanity, let alone to Christianity, then this.
[Edited a tad...]